University of California Seeks New Standardized Test

University of California Seeks New Standardized Test
Izzy Hall

Across the country, both private and public institutions of higher education have announced that they will be test-optional for students applying to enter school in the fall of 2021. This policy, instituted as a response to coronavirus cancellations of standardized testing dates, comes with the caveat that it would only exist during next year’s round of admissions. But the University of California system has gone in an entirely different direction by announcing that will no longer require the SAT or ACT for all California state applicants.

This change, which was approved last Thursday, will go into effect during the next admissions cycle and will last until 2024. During this time, the University of California will first institute test-optional policies, where campuses will have the option to use SAT or ACT scores if applicants submit them, to test-blind policies, where neither test will be considered for admission. The long-term goal of this program is for UC to develop a brand-new standardized test that will “more closely align with what we [UC] expect incoming students to know.” If no such test is created by 2025, then the University of California will eliminate the standardized test score component from admissions altogether.

To note, this policy is directed at students who live in California that apply to the University of California schools – “nonresident students,” as they’re called in the UC plan, will have alternate guidelines developed for their applications.

This change in policy raises the question – what kind of test could and should replace the SAT or ACT? And will it level the playing field for underrepresented students? Both the SAT and ACT have undergone structural reforms over the past decade, but recent scandals and scrutiny have revealed the ways these tests favor some students over others. Creating a brand-new standardized test with equity in mind is a laudable goal, but can it be done in just five years? And will a new test or test-optional/test blind policies increase the presence of lower-income and minority students on UC campuses?

What kind of standardized test would you like to see? What skills would you want to be judged on in your college applications? Let us know in the comments.

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